Situated just south of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria is the ideal vacation destination for families looking to relax on sandy beaches, spot seals and whales from shore-front parks, and enjoy a light hike in the nearby foothills. Opportunities for water sports and sea life-watching cruises abound, and you can always find a place for fresh seafood nearby. Whether you’re looking for a quiet beach home or a condo with ocean views, here are nine Carpinteria vacation rental locations for every travel style.

1. Central Carpinteria

Beaches and outdoor activities await at the focal point of Carpinteria where you find a wide range of vacation rentals that include beach-front homes resting just off the highway. Walk down to the mile-long Carpinteria State Beach from your rental to enjoy playing in the waves or kicking back on the sand. Take windsurfing or kitesurfing lessons, or rent a surfboard to catch some waves. Be sure to check out the laid-back downtown area where you’ll find local breweries and coffee shops.

2. East Carpinteria

For an affordable home away from home that puts you at the doorstep of Carpinteria’s best nature parks, the east side is a sure bet. Explore the hiking trails of Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve with ocean-side cliffs and rock-and-sand beaches, and hit a few of the lookouts to snap some photos of the harbor seals. You can also explore Tar Pit Park to see the asphalt lakes or stop by Rincon Beach Park to comb the sandy beach for seashells.

3. West Carpinteria

Quiet residential streets dotted with cozy homes make up this neighborhood just a short walk from the central town area. The west side’s location along Pacific Coast Highway gives you easy access to the museums and wharfs of Santa Barbara as well as Carpinteria’s beautiful beaches. If you’re looking to reconnect with nature, a walk through Carpinteria Salt Marsh Nature Park may be just what you need. Catch a guided tour during high tide for the best sea life and wildlife-spotting opportunities.

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4. Toro Canyon

This coastal community just north of Carpinteria is known for its intricately landscaped vacation homes and villas tucked at the foot of Toro Canyon. Staying here puts you just minutes from the charm of Santa Barbara and the beaches of Carpinteria, and you can also walk from your rental to enjoy local entertainment such as a game at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club. Re-energize with some hiking or mountain biking at scenic Toro Canyon Park, or enjoy a BBQ picnic and a game of horseshoes for a relaxing afternoon.

5. Summerland

Tucked between Santa Barbara and Toro Canyon, Summerland is a haven of beach cafes, wineries, and homes with breathtaking views of the Pacific. Here you can play a game at nearby Birnam Wood Golf Club or enjoy a picnic at the beach-front Lookout Park. The sandy beach below is the perfect place to set up your beach chair and beach umbrella while watching the kids build sandcastles. Summerland also offers some spas and wineries as a welcome break from the summer sun.

6. Montecito

Just northwest of Summerland, Montecito is a widespread community offering everything from vacation homes in the foothills to condos overlooking the beach. Walk down to Fernald Point to kick back on the sand, or search for tide pools in the rocks during low tide, and then head up to the central town area in the afternoon for a picnic at lush Manning Park. Drive up to the foothills to access Gould Park, a 360-acre recreation area where you can explore hiking trails to see natural springs and small waterfalls.

7. Santa Barbara

If you’re looking for bigger beach-city entertainment, Santa Barbara is the place to stay. Beach homes, coastal resorts and ocean-front properties abound among historic Spanish buildings. Enjoy a day at the Santa Barbara Zoo, or grab some fresh seafood at Stearns Wharf. If you’re traveling with your pooch, check out the off-leash beaches at Arroyo Burro County Beach Park for some afternoon fun. Santa Barbara is also a take-off point for whale-watching cruises, fishing charters, and kayaking excursions as well as relaxing vineyard tours.

8. La Conchita

This tiny community just south of Carpinteria is ideal for families looking for a quiet getaway right on the coast. The small strip of stunning vacation homes nestled between the foothills and the ocean creates a laid-back atmosphere, and La Conchita’s location on the main coastal highway provides easy access to the beaches of Carpinteria.

9. Mussel Shoals

The next coastal village after La Conchita is a collection of beach homes and condos tucked away on Punta Gorda. Visitors to this quiet community enjoy views of the rocky shoreline as well as the rising cliffs surrounding the area. Grab your surfboard from your vacation rental to catch a few waves just off the shore, or drive a few miles south to enjoy the sands of Faria Beach.

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